Page 5 - Dark Matter:Women Witnessing Issue #3 - December 2015
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Dark Matter: Women Witnessing - December, 2015 Issue #3 - EXTINCTION / DEVOTION

native women: “No one speaks about the woman/dying in the frail rising of a killing day./A woman hard- 

frozen in the field...”

This journal arose in part out of my own distress over the horrific unprecedented loss of animal and 

plant life on this earth due to human activity. However the question of human extinction has never been 

far from my mind.* Two days after launching the first issue I was on a plane to Poland to spend five 

days in Auschwitz-Birkenau bearing witness with Zen peacemakers. On both of my trips to Auschwitz 

(this was my second) I met Palestinians who’d braved objections and sometimes rejection by friends 

and family to come and bear witness with us. I remember one of them saying he could no longer face 

these ruins every day, they were too much like the landscape he awoke to every morning at home 

(Palestinian poet Lena Khalaf Tuffaha writes in this issue that what Palestinians have endured for 

decades is “a project of erasure that leaves no human being, olive tree, or square meter of land 

unscathed”). On one of the last days of this second trip to Auschwitz, I asked a young Palestinian 

woman what she would take home from this experience. She said: “At home we have no museums no 

monuments no archives, no way to remember our dead. I will create memorials.”

The poems of Tuffaha and Naomi Shihab Nye in this issue are both asking questions about the politics 

of perception. Who gets seen? Acknowledged? “What does it mean,” Nye writes in “Netanyahu,” “when 

one person thinks/others deserve nothing? What is that called? If you know what it is called why 

keep/doing it?”

In an interview in the Huffington Post about her recently published book Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, 

theoretical physicist Lisa Randall says something similar about the implications of dark matter for the 

nature of human perception. Though dark matter is not visible to the human eye, she writes, it’s 

“essential to the structure and formation of the universe.” This fact helps “to illuminate the gap between 

our limited observations and the many barely perceived phenomena that permeate our reality...Race 

and class differences call for empathy largely because of our difficulties in understanding what we can't 

experience or see, including the often hidden cultural forces that animate other people and their 

communities.” The “Black Lives Matter” movement had been in existence two years when Dark Matter 

was launched last November and it seemed to me at the time there was a strong subliminal connection 

between the two. Randall’s words make that connection explicit.

In recognition of the fact that when it comes to erasure and extinction, the line between the human and 

the nonhuman animal is not always easy to draw, that there are categories of humans who are still 

treated like nonhuman animals (see Tuffaha’s poem “Arrest”), our focus broadens with this issue to 

include extinction in the human realm. Our primary dedication, however, continues to be to the more- 

than-human world that is bearing the brunt of our civilization’s industrial and technological success—a

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